Every state in the US has an official song — usually something terribly old-fashioned, decided upon in the 1930s, with a title like “O, Wyoming, Wyoming, You Stout-Hearted Land” — but it’s the unofficial songs which touch the hearts of the locals.
These are the anthems you hear on the jukebox at your neighborhood bar, or at sporting events featuring your nearby ball and/or stick team, or in movies to establish location even though the film was probably shot in Vancouver. Generally, the title of the song mentions your state, or one of the major cities, or sometimes a popular landmark. (Nowadays, it could even be a case of local kids made good, such as Oklahoma naming “Do You Realize” by The Flaming Lips as the state’s official rock song.)
The larger states, your Californias and New Yorks, have many of these unofficial anthems (e.g. the Empire State: you might think Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” or Billy Joel’s “New York Sate Of Mind,” but strangely, the official state song is some kind of late 70s disco chorale called “I Love New York.” It’s a great vacation!) The smaller states … well, I’m not sure what New Hampshire does.
Texas, though, as you might imagine, has dozens of non-state-sponsored anthems, from “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” to “God Blessed Texas” to virtually anything by George Strait. None of those is particularly surprising. What’s a little more unexpected is that a one-hit wonder from the UK should find himself on this Lone Star list.
Chris Rea scored an international hit with 1978’s soft-rock ballad “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” and then dropped off the US musical map. He found continued success in his native UK and throughout Europe, becoming especially well-known for his guitar chops, and in 1989 released his biggest album, The Road To Hell, an album which almost made the US tear themselves away from Guns ‘n’ Roses for two seconds (but not quite). DJs just north of the Rio Grande certainly noticed and began giving airplay to a track called “Texas.” It soon made its way onto every jukebox in the state, and to this day still gets played at Texas Rangers’ games.
The majority of my family will celebrate this holiday season in the land of The Alamo, where the Riverwalk winds, home to the 5-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. (Go, Spurs, go!). I won’t be there this year, but like Mr. Rea, reckon I’ll dream of warm winds blowing, heating blue sky, and a road that goes forever …
I said Texas.